White Guilt?

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*Warning, this is an emotional post please read at your own risk.

What is White guilt?

I don’t know what White guilt is, but I do know that it is a different experience for different people. I don’t feel that I carry White guilt anymore, but yes I did at one time, and more on that later. I am proud of my Irish, English, Scottish, Welsh, German, Polish, and 22-25% of *inconclusive heritage. Unfortunately I was raised in a household without too many customs relating back to any one culture. I feel a deep loss because of this, but its probably because we are so muddled with different European bloodlines that there is not really one culture that could dominate in my family. Some people think I look Native American, but I was raised in a European-American household, and when I was born my mother swore I wasn’t hers because she thought that I belonged to the Native American woman who was sharing a hospital room with my mother. My mother looks Native American too. My father had to swear up and down that I was indeed my mother’s baby.

*My sister took a DNA test and it came back with strange results, so I went to a better company, and I am waiting impatiently for my DNA testing to return to me to find out what the missing link is… maybe it’s Russian or maybe it’s not?

White guilt, the feeling that you don’t like the fact that you are of European American decent, because of all of the capitalistic exploitation and colonization that Europe has done throughout the 1800’s and throughout the ages. The destruction and underdevelopment of Africa, Asia, and Latin America then and still today.

Enter the United States, and you find death and hate here too with the destruction of Native Americans, the theft of their lands and then forcing them onto reservations. The toxic diseased filled blankets given on purpose as gifts to the indigenous peoples of America. The “Indian” Schools to beat the savage out of them so they become civilized, and the displacement and feeling a sense of not belonging anywhere as a result of these schools. The gifts of alcohol that the effects still ravage many tribes, and the trail of tears, etc.

Slavery brings it’s own horrors and degradation of the African diaspora. The theft of Africans from their motherland from the 1500’s to 1865, and the toxic and tortuous middle passage from Africa to the States that many did not survive. The breeding factories in Virginia and elsewhere to make more slaves to sell. The theft of identity, of family, and of culture. The torture and rape that all slaves had to endure to scare them into staying on the plantations. The selling of wives, husbands, and of children right in front of you, and there was nothing that you could do to stop it.  

Reconstruction and the lies that were being spread about African Americans, lies of raping White women and then the subsequent lynchings. The lies that African American men were criminals and devils. The debt peonage, the convict leasing system, and share cropping that kept African Americans in slavery until the 1940’s. The Black codes or Jim Crow Laws that led to segregation, voting restrictions, and not being able to serve on a jury. The creation of the KKK, and the horrors of burning, bombings, hangings, etc

The refusal to give home loans and the creation of ghettos. The mass incarceration of African American men, and the destruction of many families as a result. School policies that push children into dropping out of school or being expelled for minor infractions, and the subsequent school to prison pipeline. The state of health care, and the state of health of people of color due to high stress racism. The fact that many people of color today are invisible, and the only time you see them in the media is just reinforcing racist stereotypical lies that have been spread for generations. Racial profiling, racial fear, and the damage to people of color because if it.

I could make a post of each one of these topics, because those are not exhaustive lists, but I don’t think I could stomach or relive the details of these horrible events as I typed it out. Yes, one has a *right to feel White guilt, and as a young child I had a bad case of it. It became worse when I turned nineteen and dated a militant Black male whom I think was really out to destroy me to express the hate that he felt inside. He had me reading all kinds of literature at the time that made me hate white people, or actually just hate myself. I endured all sorts of emotional abuse from this man which lasted about six months, and thankfully I had the strength to get out and run far away from him. It took many years to regain my sense of self and reclaim my European heritage of which I am now proud of, because what else can I do I can’t change my skin color.

**Update *While it is true we may have the right to feel guilt, because it is our right to live our lives anyway we feel we need too. I strongly feel that this guilt is negative energy, and we would be better off finding a way to educate ourselves about race and racism, and claiming our own ethnic identities instead of feeling guilty about what our ancestors did.  If you aren’t part of the solution; then you are part of the problem. We can’t just say that racism is wrong, and that we aren’t racist, and then turn around and sit idly by hoping someone else will clean up the problem. I believe that if you see racism and don’t say anything, then you are just as guilty as the active racist. For example, if you know a person of color or a person of a different sex at your employment who works hard, but is getting paid less than you, then it is your responsibility to demand that you get paid equally. Whether she/he gets a raise, or you take a pay cut. Its called equality, and fighting for the rights of all man or women kind.

Last year I read the book Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria? by Dr. Beverly Tatum. This book has enlighten me on so many different levels about race relations and racism. She has taught me that I as a European American woman that I need to claim my ethnic heritage, and be proud of who I am, because until I can do that I cannot learn and understand the plight of so many people of color in our world. That I won’t see the truth, and I cannot interrupt the racism inside my own family until I claim my ethnicity and understand who I am.

I don’t hate White people, and I don’t think that they are bad people or stupid people, but I do feel that many of them are lost. I can’t save them, but I can save myself. I am educating myself, learning, listening, and I am talking to anyone who will listen.

Communication and talking about the real subjects on race, race relations, and the state of racism today is only one step into interrupting racism, but it is one BIG step forward. The hidden subtle forms of racism today that completely hide themselves from most White people. The Unfair Campaign claims that it is hard for a white person to see racism. I agree with this statement, but unfortunately when I stated it out loud to a young White male at my University he immediately went into defense mode and claimed that the statement was unfair and it claims that White people aren’t capable of understanding or seeing racism. I wanted to say, but many White people don’t or can’t, but I couldn’t say this, because there are only so many conversations you can have with someone who isn’t willing to really listen.

I know who I am, I am working hard to see the truth, and I won’t stop till I reach my goals.

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10 thoughts on “White Guilt?

  1. It’s not that uncommon of a feeling. Remember, it’s recent as far as history goes. In 500 years there probably won’t be any white guilt because so much time has passed. It’s also hard when modern descendants of the oppressed are still suffering. Those of us that know our history are very aware of this.All this is assuming humanity is still around in 500 years.

    Did you know modern Germans also have guilt complexes about what they did? Even those that had nothing to do with it because they weren’t born yet. It’s a collective as a people guilt. Again, in 500 years or more people probably won’t feel as bad. It will just be a dark stain on their history book pages.

    Take the English, during the 1500s there was the dissolution of monasteries and countless people were killed. Most of it was against their own people, of course. But they pulled heinous crap abroad too. Modern day people don’t have anything to do with what happened 500 years ago. So why should they feel guilty? For Americans it’s just too fresh and the people oppressed are still being so.

    I guess a question to ask is how long is “ancestral” guilt allowed?

    • Its not really about White guilt, but what you are going to do with that negative energy instead. If you aren’t part of the solution, you are part of the problem. If you see racism stand up, or you are just as guilty as the active racist. Go to the Unfair Campaign website, and look under “see it” meaning see racism, and you should be able to read the face better there. Thank you.

  2. You might be interested in reading Incognito by Michael Fosberg which has also been adapted into a play. It’s about a 32 year old discovering that he is truly black after having lived his whole life thinking differently.

  3. Pingback: White Fear | Dreaming of a Colorful Future

  4. I read the book “Why are all the…” for a class in grad school (education major). The class was Diversity in the Classroom. I was glad the teacher made us read this book because it helped teachers of the majority race to understand that it’s not separation or segregation, but assimilation to what we know. I appreciate this post, I’ve never heard a white person express feelings like this. This is sort of refreshing to hear your feelings. I never want White people to feel guilty over what their ancestors did, as long as they are not continuing in the vicious mentality. It’s important for all people to love who they are, accept the history of their race and leave it at that. Thank you for this post, I enjoyed reading!

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